Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2014

Posts by Anna Giaritelli

12 Posts

December 4, 2013

‘Tis the Season for Heckling at Capitol Tree Lighting?

From the minute Speaker John A. Boehner began his address at the Capitol Christmas tree lighting on Tuesday evening, his words were washed out by the chants of dozens of immigration advocates.

Tis the Season for Heckling at Capitol Tree Lighting?

Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine, Giovanni Philip Gaynor, 6, of Colville, Wash., and Boehner are pictured shortly after they lit the Capitol Christmas Tree on the West Front. The 88-foot Engelmann spruce was harvested from the Colville National Forest in Washington state. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

“All I want for Christmas is reform,” the demonstrators yelled. Ironically, news broke earlier in the day of Boehner’s hiring of Becky Tallent to be his new immigration policy director, a move widely regarded as showing the speaker’s willingness to pursue immigration legislation.

Despite the distraction, Boehner plowed through to talk about the Christmas season, and the 88-foot Engelmann spruce did, indeed, light up.

Capitol Police estimated the crowd to be about 1,000 guests on an unseasonably warm December day.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., was scheduled to lend comments before Boehner’s official address but canceled on Sunday after giving birth to her third child.

Fellow Washingtonians Reps. Jim McDermott and Doc. Hastings helped introduce the speaker.

By Anna Giaritelli Posted at 10:59 a.m.
Reps

November 20, 2013

Jim Cooper Muses About App Replacing the Newspapers It Depends on

Jim Cooper Muses About App Replacing the Newspapers It Depends on

(Anna Giaritelli/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., believes government shortcomings and a concerned print news industry will soon be transformed into something more efficient.

“Our newspapers are dying. Dead tree products like this are having a hard time economically. The business model is not working and it needs to be replaced with something like iCitizen so that people can get the news they need,” said Cooper at  launch party for the new iCitizen app.

iCitizen combines data from a variety of news sources to inform users on issues, legislation and how to correspond with public officials.

A number of Nashville health care professionals, members and former members, including former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., rallied support for the product debut at the Ronald Reagan Building Pavilion on Tuesday night.

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, another Tennessean, talked about the frustrations she has heard from constituents about the lack of reporting on select issues, but also noted the importance of community papers.

“I find it very interesting in my district, community newspapers that are specific to one area are very popular,” Blackburn said.

Interesting, too, that iCitizen relies on many “dying” organizations to provide news to users.

CEO Rod Massey listed the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Tennessee Tribune as examples of sources for iCitizen’s 8,900 separate data feeds.

“We’re just in our infancy as far as the sources we’re incorporating. … As we integrate more diverse sources, I absolutely see us bringing that from a variety of different venues,” Massey said.

November 14, 2013

Italian Envoy Drops by CVC for Lunch

Italian-American members of Congress broke bread with Claudio Bisogniero, Italy’s ambassador to the United States, on Thursday at a Capitol Visitor Center lunch.

Italian Envoy Drops by CVC for Lunch

Bisogniero, center, dropped by Capitol Hill for lunch on Thursday. (Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty Images)

“For those of you who haven’t met him, he speaks incredibly good English, better than many of my constituents and certainly better than Pascrell’s constituents,” said Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, ribbing himself and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J.

Tiberi, Pascrell and Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Tom Marino, R-Pa., and David Cicilline, D-R.I., were all on hand for the National Italian American Foundation’s Frank Guarini Public Policy Forum luncheon, the last of the year. Full story

November 12, 2013

Baby Announcement by Steve King Gets Political

There are few things cuter than a proud grandfather, even if Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, used the newborn’s photo op to talk politics.

The six-term member took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to share that his sixth grandchild, Wallace Henry King, had arrived at 5:21 a.m.

Full story

November 11, 2013

Take Five: Rep. Tony Cardenas

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.

This week, Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., talks about saving an elephant, growing up in the Valley and getting lost underground.

Q. While on the Los Angeles City Council, you were a major animal rights activist. What motivated you to get involved with that cause?
A. My staff was given some info about Billy the Elephant suffering in our zoo. To be honest, I told my staff I don’t want to look at it, it’s not what I came here for, but it was so horrific, when I sat down and read it, I had to do something about it. I got involved in that issue and immediately got involved in domestic animal issues.

Q. You launched district and city-wide efforts to improve the environment, collecting more than 56,000 tons of trash. How did you go about that project?
A. This is the district I grew up in. Half is residential, [the] other half is chrome-plating plants, dump sites, things of that nature. I decided I wanted to do something about it. I created an environmental justice improvement zone. It was important for us to have the fire department and San Fernando city attorney’s office [involved] before we allowed someone to … expand.

Q. You are one of 11 children. What’s one stereotype that people may have about large families that isn’t true?
A. One of the stereotypes is that the family has too many kids. We actually heard that one. They would say “they live in the Valley” and assumed some of us would end up being a gang member. I’m the youngest, I’m 50. None of us have ever been in the backseat of a police car or involved with drugs or alcohol.

Q. Have you ever gotten lost in Washington?
A. Just last week! When I get in those tunnels, in the basement, I end up taking the wrong turn and getting frustrated. It’s kind of embarrassing for staff when they see that lost look on your face and the pin.

Q. What sporting team do you have to see when they travel through D.C. or when you’re back home in California?
A. My favorite sporting team is the Lakers. I used to love football when I was a kid and my favorite team was the Rams. If I go to one game a year, that’s a big year for me.

November 4, 2013

Take Five: Rep. Steve Daines

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week, Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., discusses mountaintop experiences, doing business in China and just when exactly he plans to announce his bid for Senate.

Q. You have been married for 25 years to your wife, Cindy. Tell me about your wedding or how it all came to be.
A. Before we got married, I proposed to Cindy on top of a Montana mountain peak. We got engaged on Hyalite Peak, which is a 10,000-foot peak. It was a round-trip, 15-mile hike from the car and back. I surprised her with a diamond on the top.

Q. Tell me about your 13 years with Procter & Gamble before you ran for Congress.
A. I was hired right out of college when I went to work for P&G. We were asked one day if we would consider moving to China to launch a business; it was not to outsource in any way. It was to take an American company and market it to China. We went over there with two [kids] and we came back with two more.

Q. What’s the biggest surprise when you fly back to Montana?
A. It’s just the wide open space we have and the beauty of our state. There’s a certain culture we have in Montana, a can-do attitude and strong work ethic. It’s a state and a country that doesn’t want to be told what to do. It’s that free spirit that really separates the American West and runs through the veins of Montana.

Q. Some members live in boats, rent row houses on the Hill or live out of hotels. What’s your preference for your home away from home in D.C.?
A. I look at how I can maximize my productivity; being a fifth-generation Montanan, I’m not real patient with traffic. I’ve got a little one bedroom apartment that I walk to work from every day. I don’t have a car here. The days start early and finish late; it’s nothing very fancy. It kind of reminds me of going back to my college days. We’ve got a Costco blow-up mattress for when the kids come out to visit.

Q. What’s the big takeaway for you personally from the government shutdown and how did it affect your rumored Senate bid announcement that was supposed to take place in early October?
A. 
It was never the desire of anybody to see that [shutdown] happen. We kept our team focused on serving the people that we were elected to serve. We kept a skeleton crew going, working back in Montana to tell Montanans what’s going on. I have $1.1 million in cash on hand and we will announce it soon.

October 28, 2013

Italian-American Gala Draws Top Federal, Hill Officials

Italian American Gala Draws Top Federal, Hill Officials

(Anna Giaritelli/CQ Roll Call)

Red and green lights enveloped the ceiling of the International Ballroom in the Washington Hilton on Oct.26, bathing the National Italian American Foundation gala — including former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. — in the colors of the Italian flag.

“I served in a number of offices in my public life. In every position that I served, there was one important lesson, which is if you’re going to make a difference, you’re going to have to fight for it,” said Panetta, who flew in from California to accept the foundation’s special achievement in government award.

Panetta, who also served as CIA director, White House chief of staff, Office of Management and Budget director and House Budget chairman, relayed stories that were a break from the government shutdown debate that had plagued public conversation in weeks past.

He told a tale about a boxer who did the sign of the cross over his chest before entering the ring and noted how the reliance on a belief is meaningless if it does not positively change the outcome of the fight.

Tying it to current political matters, Panetta explained that it is not enough to have hope — one must fight for its preservation and strengthen the degree at which it does exist.

In addition to Pelosi, the audience boasted a number of proud Italian-American members of the House, including Reps. Tom Marino, R-Pa., Lou Barletta, R-Pa., Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., and Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh also attended, as did Italian Senate President Pietro Grasso.

“We have always had good participation in our government. We have an active delegation. They come out to our events and participate. If we call and need them, they’re there,” said John Viola, president and chief operating officer of the foundation.

October 12, 2013

Volunteers Clean Up National Mall Over the Weekend

Volunteers Clean Up National Mall Over the Weekend

Anna Pederson and her son pick up trash on the west side of the Capitol on Saturday morning. (Anna Giaritelli/CQ Roll Call)

Former Marine Ian Grinnals drove six hours from Syracuse, N.Y., to pick up trash on the National Mall as part of the “Fix Up DC” National Day of Service event on Saturday morning.

Approximately 700 attendees showed up at 10 a.m. on the West Lawn of the Capitol  to clean up what 12 days of furloughed park rangers and maintenance officials have not been able to maintain.

The spontaneous community service event was organized on Thursday by FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots and Glenn Beck in an effort to enable citizens “to make a difference and do what government is not doing,” explained Deneen Borelli, FreedomWorks outreach director and Fox News contributor.

Leading officials in the tea party movement addressed volunteers, including television and radio host Beck and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

“We came up with this idea when we saw the man from South Carolina come out and mow the lawn. We thought all of us could do the same thing,” said Ellen Wheeler, director of messaging for FreedomWorks. “Congress may try to shutdown the government but they can’t shutdown the people.”

Individuals and families raked and bagged leaves near the outer paths of the National Mall grounds between 3rd and 7th streets NW.

Volunteers Clean Up National Mall Over the Weekend

Amanda O’Donovan of Eldersburg, Va., made the hour trip with her husband and children to rake leaves in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool. “It’s a good cause for the family and community to come together and take care of the problem.”

The majority of volunteers walked westward with the Lincoln and World War II Memorials as the final destinations.

Co-Founder of Tea Party Patriots Jenny Beth Martin said the event’s purpose was “to show America that while the government shutdown is happening we are still doing what we can to take care of the Mall.”

Martin and Diana Banister, vice president and partner of Shirley and Banister Public Affairs, walked separately from the crowds and arrived at the World War II Memorials with bags nearly full.

Beck, who unofficially led the way down the Mall, arrived at the World War II Memorial shortly after noon and greeted dozens of veterans despite the signs of closure surrounding the oval-shaped space.

Volunteers Clean Up National Mall Over the Weekend

Glenn Beck greets a veteran from World War II.
Photograph by Anna Giaritelli

Grinnals, who served two tours in the Middle East between 2004 and 2008, had personal reasons for making the road trip down to Washington.

“I want to make sure these memorials stay clean for future veterans, especially veterans on these honor flights that are coming here usually on their last leg. They should have a place to come and be remembered,” added Grinnals, a member of the Sons of Sam motorcycle club, which supports men and women of the armed forces.

October 3, 2013

‘Citizen Cabinet’ Could Give Lawmakers a Feel for Their Constituents’ Opinions

Voice of the People, a new non-partisan organization in Washington, announced Thursday its campaign to create a national citizen Cabinet that will allow the opinions of Americans to be heard by Congress.

The organization’s long-term goal is to pass legislation that will establish a “congressionally-chartered national academy for public consultation that will develop a full Citizen Cabinet so that every member of Congress will be able to hear from a representative sample of their constituents,” explained Steven Kull, president and founder of Voice of the People.

Joining the organization’s advisory board are former Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.; former Rep. Michael N. Castle, R-Del.; former Rep. Bill Frenzel, R-Minn.; and former Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas.

The plan to scientifically-select a sample of 120,000 Americans — 275 from each congressional district throughout the country — will allow those chosen to first be informed by a set of facts agreed upon by experts on both sides. Full story

September 30, 2013

Take Five: Rep. Janice Hahn

Take Five: Rep. Janice Hahn

Hahn hangs out with her grandchildren before the Congressional Women’s Softball Game in June. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week, Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., talks about her dad, the grandkids and her favorite D.C. eats.

Q. I read that your father [former LA County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn] was the only public official from the city to show up at the Los Angeles airport to welcome Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1962. What do you remember about that?

A. I was not with him, but I do remember when he came home that evening he talked about the time that he spent alone with Dr. King. My dad picked him up from the airport and drove him around Compton because he wanted Dr. King to see the African-American community in LA, and then he took him to this office and gave him a cup of coffee. When my dad came home that night, he spoke about Dr. King’s hope for America and what he hoped his children would be able to experience one day. When Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, my dad always thought he heard it first.

Q. You have five grandchildren. How often do you get to see them?
A. Well, two live in Bend, Ore., and three are in Colorado. I see them as much as I can. The three from Colorado were here when I was inaugurated, then they came again when I played in the Congressional Softball Game recently, saying, “Go Mimi!” My 7-year-old Brooklyn wanted to celebrate her birthday with cupcakes in the Rotunda of the Capitol.
Q. You raised three children as a single mother. What misconceptions do you believe the public has about single parents?
A. I think more and more people are single parents. I think there’s less misconception about it because it’s really kind of the new norm. Vice President Joe R. Biden Jr. was a single parent after the death of his wife. I know more and more single parents.
Q. You’ve been a congresswoman for two years now. How would you describe the city of Washington to someone who has never visited or lived here?

A. It’s on a swamp. [She laughs.] I tell everyone what a beautiful, historic, fascinating city this is. I am reminded of that every time I fly in from LA, when I catch my first glimpse of the Washington Monument or our nation’s Capitol. Every summer, when you see all the families who come here to tour this great city, the history really speaks for itself. I’m always inviting my friends from California to visit me. The weather is a little challenging, though.

Q. What’s your guilty pleasure eatery in D.C.?
A. Acqua al 2 at Eastern Market. It’s got wonderful Italian food and then across the street from that is a gelato place [Pitango]. Those are probably my two favorites.

September 23, 2013

Take Five: Howard Coble

Take Five: Howard Coble

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., talks about first jobs, post-Coast Guard life and the Grammys.

Q. You started out working in retail in Greensboro, N.C.?

A. I worked at Belk’s department store, mostly in men’s clothing. I started at probably 14 years old. My dad worked there for 42 years, mostly at the downtown store. It was kind of a non-negotiable. He said, “You will go to work.”

Q. Greensboro, N.C., is home to six colleges, so what caused you to attend Guilford College?

A. I transferred to Guilford from Appalachian State to be near home. I was thinking about studying for the ministry at the time, and I thought a liberal arts college would be a better fit for that.

Q. You spent more than two decades serving in the Coast Guard. How has it enabled you to better understand that niche within the military in the subcommittees you now serve on?

A. I enlisted 61 years ago on Sept. 16. I had a couple of friends that had enlisted earlier, and they’re the ones that talked me into joining the Coast Guard. It was a good learning experience that served me well, particularly on the Coast Guard Committee. I was the former chairman and I was the only member of the Coast Guard now serving in Congress.

Q. The Triad region of North Carolina is world-famous for its annual furniture market. Have you found any good furniture places in Washington?

A. I hadn’t really looked because I found all of mine back home. I bought a house up here, though. It’s located 10 blocks from Navy Yard.

Q. You attended the Grammys in 2008. What was your favorite or most memorable part of the show?

A. The late Earl Scruggs. He was confirmed with his Lifetime Achievement Award. They asked me to present him that award since Earl was from Cleveland County in North Carolina. I was very pleased and honored to do that.

September 19, 2013

H&M Mobbed on First Day at Union Station

The grand opening of retailer H&M’s Union Station store drew scores of visitors Thursday, including Hill staffers on lunch hour.

“For us, it’s really about opening and inviting everyone in today, showing strength in light of recent events,” said Nicole M. Christie, acting communications manager for North America at H&M.

Eager shoppers waited in line while employees entertained the masses with cheers and dancing to the music of DJ Bounce as everyone waited for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Among the customers visiting H&M on its first day of business were a number of Hill staffers, whose lanyards gave them away. No members of Congress were seen.

The new store joins more than 30 other H&M locations in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area and is the 281st store to open in the United States. The space previously housed a Barnes & Noble, which closed on March 1.

The 8,000-square-foot area is being used as the company’s first-ever boutique-style space and will feature both ladies’ and men’s styles. Although the average H&M is 20,000 square feet, this location was expected to see 600 visitors in its first day of opening, according to Ashlee Griffin, the Union Station store manager.

For the 90,000 people that pass through Union Station’s doors daily, opening a business there meant capitalizing on commuters at one of the nation’s largest transit hubs.

“It gives us a unique advantage to focus and hone in on what’s working here so we can tailor and bring in certain parts of collections, maybe even our capsule collections,” Christie said. “We understand the market that we are in, so we could have after-work events for the D.C. professional. We try to think of unique ways to think locally and connect; this really is a great space and atmosphere for it to happen.”

See scenes from the opening on our Pinterest board.

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